Friday, June 14, 2019


Charles Delattre, Emmanuelle Valette, Jean-François Cottier, Stavroula Kefallonitis, Mickaël Robreau and Joëlle Soler (ed.), Pragmatique du commentaire. Mondes anciens, mondes lointains. Antiquité et sciences humaines (ASH), 4. Turnhout: Brepols, 2018. Pp. 350. ISBN 9782503577234. €95,00 (pb).

Reviewed by Ute Tischer, Leipzig University (

Version at BMCR home site

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

The present volume claims to belong to a long philological tradition of scholarship on commentaries, a tradition that takes its own methods and approaches as the objects of its study, as the editors Charles Delattre and Emmanuelle Valette state in their introduction (pp. 25–26). In the last few decades, this interest in ancient commentaries, their forms and functions, their practices and rhetorical strategies, and how they are reflected in their modern counterparts has steadily grown and resulted in a number of influential volumes.1 Delattre and Valette contribute to this field in their own original way by providing a comparative and anthropological approach in this volume, one that focuses on the 'pragmatics' of commenting and writing commentaries. As a result, the works examined (not all of which are commentaries in the traditional sense) are presented as products of a discursive practice, an 'activité lettrée' (Jacob, p. 9), which implies certain social contexts, material conditions and communicative goals.

Though not destined to provide a systematic and exhaustive account, the book sheds light on this vast and heterogeneous field in an impressive and stimulating way. It grew out of a series of colloquia, which provided its methodological and thematic framework and were held in Paris in 2011– 13 under the heading of 'Commenter, expliquer, paraphraser. Enjeux historiques et anthropologiques des pratiques de commentaire dans le monde antique et au-delà'. This background suggests not only a long and intensive engagement with the topic and the collaboration of many participants, but also a perspective that, while starting from ancient commentary traditions, transcends both epoch and culture.

The positive effects of this interdisciplinary collaboration can be felt throughout the entire book. The papers included are all of high academic quality and written by experts in the respective fields. Most of them sharpen the reader's awareness of the basic conditions and functionalities that influence and define commentaries, as well as the act of commenting in general. It is a particular achievement of the editors that the individual topics and papers are very well introduced and interconnected. Delattre and Valette have made this field accessible in such a way that a non-expert reader will also substantially benefit from reading through the individual contributions.

There are two introductory pieces—an essay by Christian Jacob (pp. 7–23) and an introduction by Delattre and Valette (pp. 25–43)—followed by thirteen articles in French, which are organised into six sections. Next, a collection of abstracts, all in French and English, helps non-francophone readers to find their way through the volume. At the end, an apparatus of no fewer than four indices (rerum, fontium et auctorum, nominum, and locorum) makes it easy to explore cross-connections and thematic points of contact between the single chapters.

The introductory parts fulfil the difficult task of showing how each of the essays explores the same universal cultural practice from a different angle. In his Préface, Christian Jacob assembles an instructive collection of questions and topics for a comprehensive study of commenting practises from a synchronic or diachronic perspective. The Introduction that follows by Delattre and Valette draws awareness to the many connecting lines that can be drawn between the individual papers: the ambiguous position of the commentary in respect to genre, author and subject; the importance of orality and social context; the interrelation of form and purpose; and the material preconditions and their impact on reading habits and the use of commentaries.

The reader is then well prepared for the individual essays that deal with different types of commentaries (e.g., the commentarii of Aulus Gellius, authored lemmatized commentaries, scholia, an anonymous verse commentary, homilies and travel descriptions), on different topics and types of texts (e.g., philosophy, medicine, the Bible, and poetry), and from different times and cultures (e.g., classical and Late Antiquity, the Middle ages, Renaissance, modern times, from pagan, Jewish and Christian contexts, and post-war Japan).

However, given that the 'pragmatics of commentary' is the volume's general topic, the editors decided against a chronological or generic arrangement. Instead, they managed the diversity of the papers by arranging groups of two (or three, in one case) under a common heading, thus highlighting contextual aspects of producing and using commentaries as well as commenting as a kind of communication. Six topics or perspectives of commenting are outlined, namely terms, concepts and semantic field ('Commentaire : Des mots, des objets, des pratiques'; Valette, Pietrobelli), the way commentaries are constructed and at the same time construct their objects ('Fabriquer un texte, un genre, un auteur'; Briand, Pierre, de Boissieu), the scope and boundaries set for producers and users of commentaries ('Un espace de la contrainte ?'; Meyer, Zucker), social and didactic contexts ('Lettrés à la chaîne'; Cambron-Goulet, Leroy), genre and rhetoric ('Commentaire en chaire'; Bady, Ribreau), and finally commenting as a kind of literary attitude not limited to specific genres or objects ('Parcours savants'; Delattre, Soler).

As it is not possible within the given space to review all of the contributions with their different objectives in detail, I confine myself to highlighting two examples of interesting connecting lines between them. The first interlinks a number of participants who start their explorations from texts, which at first glance seem to be located more on the margins of the topic. This applies, for example, to the inspiring studies by Valette and Pietrobelli, who survey the scattered testimonies for terms like commentarius, commentarii (Valette) and hypomnema (Pietrobelli), in order to find their common notion, which is summarised by Emmanuelle Valette as 'un certain rapport à l'écriture, à la mémoire et au temps' (p. 48). Having this attitude in mind, one can easily see a comparable approach in the periegetic works of Pausanias and Egeria, described by Delattre and Soler as a kind of 'spatially organised commentary' (Delattre, p. 317). Again, the aspect of attitude is discussed by Rabbin David Meyer, who deals with the tradition and layout of Jewish biblical and Talmudic commentaries, showing how the digital age influences the use of commentaries as a social and spiritual practice.

The two chapters written by Maxime Pierre and Michel de Boissieu might be taken as a second example of a convincing cross-connection. Pierre describes how the commentary tradition on Horace's poetry developed the term ode as a generic marker and as a result constructed the Horatian carmina as a separate genre. This is answered by Michel de Boissieu's paper on a modern Japanese short story, which parodies the attitude of the commentator, thereby re-constructing (and re-interpreting) not only the commented object, a traditional fairy tale, but also the commentator himself as a literary character. Both articles therefore deal with the topic of constructing genres and authors by commenting on them, revealing this as an important effect of 'leaving comments' on a given object.

In summary, readers are left with a clearly positive impression, and there is hardly anything which could be objected to. To be sure, some areas that one may have expected are left out (for example, the Homeric and Virgilian exegesis).2 However, this might be due to the unpredictable preferences and publishing decisions of seminar participants. Perhaps for the same reason, the volume comes across as a very French undertaking involving only French contributors. This reviewer, at least, takes this as a sign of the dynamic landscape of cultural and comparative studies in France, which clearly provides an excellent background for the present study on a topic that still awaits more research of this sort.

Authors and titles

Jacob, Christian: Préface : Quand lire, c'est faire. pp. 7–23.
Delattre, Charles; Valette, Emmanuelle: Introduction. pp. 25–43.
Valette, Emmanuelle: Commentarii et commentaire - de Cicéron à Aulu Gelle. pp. 47–80.
Pietrobelli, Antoine: Le commentaire comme exercice spirituel chez Galien. pp. 81–110.
Briand, Michel: Le texte et le commentaire comme montages : les citations dans les scholies anciennes à Pindare. pp. 113–135.
Pierre, Maxime: Quand les commentaires font le genre : les Carmina d'Horace et l'invention de l' « ode » . pp. 137–156.
Boissieu, Michel de: Le Mont crépitant commenté par Dazai Osamu. pp. 157–170.
Meyer, David Rabbin: Les évolutions récentes des formats des commentaires bibliques et talmudiques. Entre nécessité et dangers. pp. 173–200.
Zucker, Arnaud: De la servitude volontaire du commentateur… à Aristote. pp. 201–223.
Cambron-Goulet, Mathilde: Commentaire et convivialité chez Marinus. pp. 227–244.
Leroy, Sylvain: Le Liber prefigurationum Christi et Ecclesie : un commentaire de la Bible en hexamètres dactyliques. pp. 245–261.
Bady, Guillaume: Genres et factures des textes exégétiques attribués à Jean Chrysostome. pp. 265–289.
Ribreau, Mickaël: Quand le texte parle. Prosopopée et commentaire chez Augustin. pp. 291–309.
Delattre, Charles: Périégèse et exégèse : l'exemple de Pausanias. pp. 313–344.
Soler, Joëlle: Peut-on considérer les premiers pèlerinages chrétiens comme des formes de commentaires ? Voyage et exégèse chez Égérie et Paula. pp. 345–367.


1.   Important collective studies include, among others, Most, Glenn. W. (Ed.) (1999): Commentaries - Kommentare. Göttingen; Gibson, Roy K.; Shuttleworth Kraus, Christina (Eds.) (2002): The classical commentary. Histories, practices, theory. Leiden; Geerlings, Wilhelm; Schulze, Christian (Eds.) (2002/2004): Der Kommentar in Antike und Mittelalter. Beiträge zu seiner Erforschung. Leiden, Boston, Köln, 2 vols.; Enenkel, Karl A. E. (Ed.) (2014): Transformations of the classics via early modern commentaries. Leiden; Shuttleworth Kraus, Christina; Stray, Christopher (Eds.) (2016): Classical commentaries. Explorations in a scholarly genre. Oxford.
2.   On pp. 42–43 the editors remark that some papers on poetic commentaries held during the seminar now form part of a special Issue of Rursus (2016), see

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Erik Jensen, Barbarians in the Greek and Roman World. Indianapolis; Cambridge: Hackett Publishing, Inc., 2018. Pp. xiv, 296. ISBN 9781624667121. $16.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Balbina Bäbler, University of Goettingen (

Version at BMCR home site

This book aims to introduce the many cultures the Greeks and Romans encountered and the ways that both Greeks and Romans interacted with, and perceived, these different cultures. It is explicitly addressed to readers "without many years of study behind them" (vii). The author was thoroughly successful in this endeavor: he manages to give an overview on the subject from early Greece until Late Antiquity in a very readable and engaging manner. The book is well illustrated (sometimes with instructions about what to observe especially, e. g. on pp. 51, 66, 105).

Jensen is aware of the historical baggage of the term "barbarian", but he convincingly defends its use, since it was the word the ancient authors used, and it had not necessarily a pejorative meaning in antiquity (ix). It was initially mainly a linguistic term to designate peoples whose language was unintelligible (1. "Meeting the Barbarians", pp. 1–22). The ideas behind the concept of "barbarian" were never static, and there are other challenges for modern scholarship as well: markers such as language, religion or proper names do not always reveal identity; in many societies there were different grades of citizenship, and race did not hold equivalent meaning in the ancient Mediterranean.

Chap. 2 ("How the Greeks became Greek", pp. 23–38) gives an overview of Greek prehistory and shows how myths of invasion and migration were used to "fabricate heritage" (pp. 32–38): they usually tell more about Greek politics of the fifth cent. BC than about population movements a thousand years before. The Greeks encountered societies with cultures older than their own in different ways (3. "The Greeks encounter the World", pp. 39–60): for instance, the Greeks were mercenaries in Assyrian and Egyptian armies, and founded colonies where they had to accommodate with local peoples; there was also a demand for Greek goods, e. g. in Etruria, where these had to be adapted to local demands. It has to be kept in mind that there were "variations of Greekness" (p. 60); the Greek world had no single center.

The relationships of Greece, especially Athens, with other cultures, especially Persia, did not fundamentally change after the Persian wars (4. "The Greco-Persian Wars", pp. 61–79), although the conventional Greek narratives after the war often reduced the Persians to stereotypes (with lasting effects until modern times); but Herodotus, Aeschylus or Xenophon offered a more subtly nuanced picture. For the Persians, Greece was probably only a minor spot on the troublesome western frontier; in spite of modern scholarly literature asserting that the battle of Marathon determined the fate of the western world, the arts and culture of Athens probably would have flourished (had the outcome been otherwise) as part of the Persian Empire, which was a tolerant and multicultural state.

The rise of Macedon gave a new urgency to the question of what it meant to be Greek (5. "Greeks, Macedonians and Persians", pp. 81–99). Greek schemes of ancestry (of which Alexander the Great was well aware) that included or excluded peoples were mostly written by Athenians and in the context of Athenian political and social life.

In the Hellenistic world it was usually a small Greco-Macedonian elite at the top that ruled from urban centers (6. "The Hellenistic Era", pp. 101–23). The definition of who and what was Greek was open to new interpretations and varied from one context to another; the collaboration of the native elite was necessary, and Ptolemies and Seleucids practiced a model of "limited incorporation" (110) by using local languages as well as Greek for proclamations, and by adapting local deities for a broader, also non-native public (for example, the cult of Sarapis). Greek, however, was the language of authority, as the translation of the Hebrew Bible (Septuagint) shows. But identities could be complex, even at family level, as onomastics often shows (with names composed of Greek and native elements, or parents with Egyptian, but children with Greek, names).

The second part of the book is devoted to Rome, and, like the first, presented as a magisterial historical overview from Rome's beginnings until about 500 CE. Rome was from the beginning accessible to outsiders and in contact with the surrounding Latins, Sabines, Etruscans and occasionally Greeks (7. "Rome and Italy", pp. 125–46). The barbarians in the eyes of the Romans were the Gauls (or Celts) of the Po valley, at first a society of mobile warrior bands, for whom Greek literature (in more recent times especially Polybius) had provided the theoretical framework of stereotypes. Even after their defeat they were still perceived as alien and dangerous. A new common enemy rose with Carthage (with whom Rome had in fact been on good terms for almost two hundred years); the Punic wars were a deliberate decision of Rome's political class, and they also served to create an identity and mobilize allies (pp. 138–45).

It was Caesar who knew how to exploit the persistent anti-Gallic prejudice (8. "An Empire of Barbarians", pp. 147–65): he fought a war for his own ends affecting enemies and (Gallic) allies alike, but he makes no distinction between the two in his De Bello Gallico. In fact "the Gauls" (as well as "the Germans") as a coherent ethnic group were Caesar's invention. His portrayal of Gauls and Germans had a lasting effect, not only on Roman narratives, but until modern times (pp. 152–57). During the civil war following Caesar's murder, Octavian propagated a "return to romanitas" (pp. 157–61), by, e. g., reviving common traditions not just for the elite. In contrast to Marc Antony he grasped the importance of promoting what it meant to be Roman, which in the end helped him win the war of propaganda.

An altogether different challenge regarding foreign peoples were the Greeks (9. "Greek, Roman, and Greco-Roman", pp. 167–87), with whom relations were always marked by a lingering sense of uneasiness, although in time a greater equilibrium and an awareness of mutual benefits were achieved. While the Greeks asked whether the Romans were Greeks or barbarians, the Romans, on the one hand, admired Greek education – almost all physicians in Rome were Greeks –, but on the other the suspicion that the Greeks looked down on them never quite died out. Yet in time the awareness of a "shared collection" of values and practices led to what is now called "Greco-Roman" culture (pp. 182–7), characteristics of which are, for example, the adaptation of Greek philosophical traditions, or the avid collecting of Greek art by the Roman elite.

The following chapter focuses on an Empire that stretched from Britain to Arabia (10. "Being Roman", pp. 189–210), and had foreign contacts, mainly through trade, as far as China and the kingdom of Kush. Rome's aristocracy had become cosmopolitan, and distinctions of who or what was Roman and barbarian became increasingly blurred, as can be seen e. g. in the works of Tacitus, who uses narratives about barbarians to reflect unflatteringly on his fellow Romans. After Augustus, the frontiers remained mostly stable (11. "The Imperial Frontier", pp. 211–29), but they were always a sensitive area and occasionally prone to instability as their security also depended on the collaboration of the local population beyond them. They were also an area of trade, exchange, recruitment of soldiers (often from beyond the frontier); in the worst case they were inhabited by restless troops who might either cross the border for plunder or make a bid for the throne. Emperors were therefore well advised not to leave the frontier in anyone else's hand.

By 500 CE, the Roman world had become a patchwork of states ruled by kings and warlords (12. "Invasions, Migrations, Transformations", pp. 231–52). Although in scholarly literature the increasing invasions of the "barbarians" and the fall of the empire seem to go together as a matter of course, Jensen points out that the exact relationship and overlap of the two processes are hard to define. The most interesting question he deals with in this chapter seems to me: why did those who successfully acquired political power no longer identify themselves as Romans (pp. 250–2)? They were no strangers to Roman culture, many of them having been Roman soldiers or allies. As Jensen convincingly argues, one of the fatal developments was the split (beginning already in the 3rd cent. CE) between the civil aristocracy formed by an integrated elite, and the military aristocracy, which was recruited increasingly from immigrants who were often the targets of open hostility, even when (or perhaps because) their policies were successful; a case in point is Stilicho, who was eventually murdered.

Jensen gives a fascinating picture of the multicultural world of the ancient Mediterranean 1 and shows in every chapter that the Greeks and Romans and the "barbarians" they encountered often had much in common. Especially to be appreciated is that every chapter contains a summary of the modern scholarship about the subject. The last chapter (13. "Remembering the Barbarians", pp. 253–261) gives a general, very impressive overview of how far the perception of foreign cultures was shaped by ancient stereotypes and until very recently often described with phrases taken from ancient authors. In turn, modern (ideological or political) contexts often influenced the view of ancient societies. This book is not just about ancient cultures or ethnicities; by showing how stereotypes were forged and used already in antiquity, it is very relevant for present times, too.


1.   The only thing to be regretted is that the bibliography (pp. 263–76) consists entirely of literature in English. While I understand that the book is addressed not to specialists but to a more general public, it seems to me that e. g. a work so fundamental as A. Dihle, Die Griechen und die Fremden (München 1994) should have been mentioned.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019


Karl R. Krierer, Ina Friedmann (ed.), Netzwerke der Altertumswissenschaften im 19. Jahrhundert Beiträge der Tagung vom 30.-31. Mai 2014 an der Universität Wien. Wien: Phoibos Verlag, 2016. Pp. 280. ISBN 9783851611502. €79.00.

Reviewed by Joern Kobes (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents can be found at the end.]

Karl R. Krierer und Ina Friedmann legen die interessanten Ergebnisse einer Tagung an der Universität Wien aus dem Jahr 2014 zu altertumswissenschaftlichen personalen und persönlichen Netzwerkstrukturen vom 18. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert vor.

Die inhaltlich-chronologische Reihenfolge der Vorträge wurde in der Publikation zugunsten der alphabetischen Sortierung nach Verfasser aufgegeben. Waren die Vorträge in der Tagung noch inhaltlich-chronologisch geordnet, ließen sich inhaltliche und formale Entwicklungen sehr gut darstellen. Da außerdem ein Personenregister fehlt, das in diesem speziellen Fall eine gewinnbringende Zugabe hätte sein können, stehen inhaltlich berührende Beiträge solange verbindungslos nebeneinander: Trotz der geäußerten formalen Kritik sind die Beiträge lesenswert, informativ und auf der Höhe der Zeit.

Es lassen sich einige Themenschwerpunkte erkennen, so die Erforschung der kaiserlich-königlichen Altertumswissenschaften im 19. Jahrhundert, die Wirkungsmacht deutscher Wissenschaftler, die Lehrstühle in Österreich-Ungarn als gezielten Karriereschritt betrachteten. Gründe für einen solchen Schritt lagen in denselben kulturellen Schnittpunkten, der konservativen politischen Strömungen und in dem auf der Hand liegenden Vorteil, die Muttersprache auch hier verwenden zu können.

So beschäftigt sich Karl R. Krierer mit dem Briefwechsel zwischen Alexander Conze und Theodor Mommsen während Conzes Wiener Zeit. In der Korrespondenz geht es hauptsächlich um Conzes Zuarbeiten zu Mommsens Forschungen zu den republikanischen Quellen und dem großen Editionsprojekt CIL. Conze bringt schon mit seinem Antritt in Wien neben seinen deutschen Kontakten schnell die Wiener Altertumswissenschaftler in gegenseitige Kontaktaufnahme und beweist, wie geradezu intuitiv er sich ein Netzwerk zunutze machen konnte, indem er selbst bereit ist, solche Dienste anzubieten bzw. anzunehmen. Darüber hinaus begann Conze schon früh, Unterstützung und die Chancen der eigenen Rückkehr nach Berlin auszuloten. Auch dafür aktivierte er die Mitglieder seines Netzwerkes und deren Netzwerke, suchte aber auch den direkten Kontakt zu Theodor Mommsen, der sich als eifriger Unterstützer dieses Unterfangens beweisen sollte.

Torsten Kahlert bietet dann die Fortführung zu den personalen altertumswissenschaftlichen Korrespondenten-Netzwerken an: Mommsen und seine zahlreiche Umgebung werden seitens des CIL-Großprojekts von den Ursprüngen in den Blick genommen. Dass dies mit der vorhandenen »man-power« nur bedingt bewältigt werden kann, macht Kahlert schon zu Beginn deutlich, als er auf ca. 4000 Korrespondenzpartner verweist, die mit Mommsen in (meist brieflichem) Kontakt standen. Diese überaus hohe Zahl legt nahe, dass sich diese Partner nicht alle untereinander kannten oder in Kontakt standen, so dass wir hier ebenfalls zusätzliche Kontakte erwarten dürfen, so dass der zu vermutende Kreis deren, die sich nicht kennen mussten, aber am selben Projekt mitarbeiteten, deutlich größer gewesen ist. Jedenfalls ist die (Vor- und Früh-)Geschichte der Einrichtung des CIL ein beredtes Beispiel für Möglichkeiten, Netzwerkpolitik zu beobachten.

Christine Ottner untersucht die Gründungsgeschichte des »deutsch-österreichischen Akademiekartells von 1893«. Damit ist der Zusammenschluss der Akademien und gelehrten Gesellschaften in München, Leipzig, Göttingen, Berlin und Wien gemeint, die sich anhand des geplanten Projekts Thesaurus linguae Latinae zusammengefunden hatten. Neben Mommsen an hervorragender Stelle tauchen zwei Wiener Ordinarien, Suess und von Hartel, auf. Ausgehend von den Erfahrungen, die beim CIG, beim CIL, dem Corpus Nummorum und der MGH aufgrund deren Größen gemacht wurden, konnten die Organisationen gezielter und mit ihren Hauptakteuren auch wissenschaftspolitisch schwergewichtiger auftreten, um sich der Unterstützung der Politik gewiss zu sein, zwangsläufig auftretende Kosten zu verteilen und Kollisionen in den Ansprüchen auf solche Projekte und ihre Leitung zu vermeiden.

Verbindungen zum unausgesprochenen Schwerpunkt »Korrespondenz mit Mommsen« lassen sich in weiteren Beiträgen zu den nach Wien berufenen deutschen Professoren knüpfen, auch wenn sie wegen ihres Forschungsgebietes nicht unbedingt mit Mommsen in Verbindung standen oder sich seiner Unterstützung versicherten. So bewegt sich Hubert D. Szemethy als profunder Kenner Otto Benndorfs (seit 1877 Nachfolger Conzes in Wien) mit dessen frühen Netzwerk-Korrespondenten von Mommsen weg, ohne dass sich das Material signifikant ändert. Der Nachlass Benndorf umfasst wohl weit über 20000 Briefe, annähernd 70% (von ca. 1500 Korrespondenzpartnern) davon befinden sich heute im Archiv der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek in Wien, anderes Material häufig in Privatarchiven und in staatlichen Depositorien. Umfang und Verstreutheit der Quellen verdeutlichen, dass hier auch Netzwerk-Forschung benötigt wird, um das Material zu sichten und adäquat zu untersuchen. Eines belegt dieser Zustand auch: Wer so viel Briefe schreibt, so viele Antworten erhält und so viele Kontakte pflegt, muss eine exzellent kommunikative Person sein. Szemethy gelingt es, mit der »Herausschälung« der Briefeschreiber und ihren biographischen Daten ein hervorragendes Instrument für die »Lehrzeit« des thüringischen Archäologen und Ausgräbers von Ephesos bereitzustellen—viele dieser Kontakte begleiteten Benndorf dann auch nach 1877.

Wenn in der Darstellung auch eher die Forschungsinteressen des Rezensenten zum Vorschein traten, muss konstatiert werden, dass im vorgelegten Band noch eine Menge mehr an Informationen, Darstellungen und Netzwerkverknüpfungen zu erkennen sind, die zu suchen und zu beschreiben wertvolle Informationen eröffnen können.

Table of Contents

Vorwort, 7
Johanna Auinger: Die späten Briefe Carl Humanns (1884–1895), 9
Beatrix Bastl: Die 'Altertumswissenschaften', das 'Migrationsproblem' und die 'Disziplin-Losigkeit'. Carl von Lützow, 21
Monika Faber: Zur Frühzeit der »archäologischen« Fotografie in Österreich, 39
Ina Friedmann: »Qui tacet, consentit«. Alexander Conze und Wilhelm von Bode im Spiegel ihrer Korrespondenz, 51
Olivier Gengler: »Deux lettres à Mylord Comte d'Aberdeen«. Öffentlicher Briefwechsel und Kontroverse über die Inschriften von Michel Fourmont am Anfang des 19. Jahrhunderts, 61
Daniela Haarmann: Die Netzwerke des Franz de Paula Neumann (1744–1816), Leiter des Wiener k. k. Münz- und Antikenkabinetts, 73
Torsten Kahlert: Große Projekte und informelle Netzwerke. Theodor Mommsen und das Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, 87
Raimund Karl: Moriz Hoernes and his network. Transfer of epistemology into and in archaeology, past and present, 95 Karl R. Krierer:
Alexander Conze und Theodor Mommsen. Die Wiener Briefe (1870–1877), 111
Brigitta Mader: Netzwerk Urgeschichte. Ferdinand von Hochstetter und die prähistorische Forschung in Österreich im letzten Drittel des 19. Jahrhunderts, 125
Suzanne Marchand: Die Würdigung der Kunst von Anderen: Josef Strzygowski und die österreichischen Ursprünge der außer- europäischen Kunstgeschichte, 139
Christine Ottner: Zwischen Berlin und Wien: Theodor Mommsen, Wilhelm von Hartel und Eduard Suess als Proponenten des deutsch-österreichischen Akademiekartells von 1893, 159
Marianne Pollak: Zwischen Bayern und Innviertel. Die Frühzeit der archäologischen Forschung im westlichen Oberösterreich, 171
Stefan Rebenich: Personale Netzwerke und wissenschaftliche Normierung: Das Handbuch der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, 185
Andreas Schmidt-Colinet: Louis-François Cassas (1756–1827) als Vorläufer und Wegbereiter von Netzwerken in den Altertumswissenschaften des 19. Jahrhunderts, 199
Hubert D. Szemethy: Otto Benndorfs frühe Korrespondenzen. Zeugnis für den Aufbau eines wissenschaftsorientierten Netzwerks, 209
Eckhard Wirbelauer: Die »Kreise« des Althistorikers Ernst Fabricius (1857–1942), 249
Michaela Zavadil: Verwobene Netzwerke: Wissenschaft und Personalakquise bei Heinrich Schliemann, 267
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Jane DeRose Evans, Coins from the Excavations at Sardis: Their Archaeological and Economic Contexts: Coins from the 1973 to 2013 Excavations. Archaeological Exploration of Sardis monographs, no 13. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 2018. Pp. xxi, 305 p., 19 p. of plates. ISBN 9780674987258. $90.00.

Reviewed by George Watson, Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main (

Version at BMCR home site

As befits Sardis's status as the birthplace of western coinage, the publication of coin finds from the excavations there counts among one of the best and most extensive of any site in the eastern Mediterranean. The volume under review here not only supplements three previous publications with new material,1 but also corrects and newly analyses finds that had already been published. The aim of the book is clear both from the title and from the introductory chapters: not simply to analyse the coins, but also to set them in context. This book will thus be of interest not only to numismatists but also to archaeologists and economic historians.

After editorial prefaces, summaries in English and Turkish, and a brief introduction, come two substantive chapters, followed by four appendices concerned with countermarks, monograms, reverse types of late Roman bronzes and statistical formulae, respectively. The lengthiest part of the book is the catalogue, which lists over 8,000 coins found during excavations in Sardis between 1973 and 2013; this is supplemented with a concordance between the catalogue and field numbers from the excavations. The nineteen high-quality plates contain illustrations of 118 coins, 11 maps and 14 graphs.

The title of Chapter 2, "Excavation coins as evidence of the economy and trade," is something of a misnomer. The use of excavation coins as evidence for economic prosperity is much contested, and Evans herself often resorts to archaeological evidence regarding the state of the Sardian economy at any given time period, at one point remarking, "We know that Early Imperial coins are not common in eastern urban sites, reinforcing the argument that the number of excavation coins found in strata are not necessarily good indicators of economic prosperity or downturn" (29). What we get instead is a numismatic history of Sardis. For the Lydian and Hellenistic periods, Evans discusses many controversial mint attributions and datings, sometimes drawing on contextual information from the excavations. There is a long excursus on the dating of civic bronzes from Sardis, and Evans suggests that the first civic bronze issues should be dated to the late third century BC, far earlier than the suggestions of many previous scholars. The high imperial period is discussed mainly with reference to Sardis' civic types, but also with occasional reference to the changing origins of "foreign" coins, that is coins found in the excavations that were not struck at Sardis.2 The final part of the chapter, concerning the late Roman and Byzantine periods, examines the changing circulation pool at Sardis, which was often composed of coins more than 100 years old.

Throughout this chapter, Evans is keen to set Sardis in its regional context and has compiled figures for coin loss across time at various sites in the eastern Mediterranean, much in the manner of Reece and Casey for Britain and the north- western provinces. Thus she uses the Sardis material to confirm previously observed phenomena, such as the fall in numbers of excavation coins from the fifth through the seventh centuries, and discusses in the text why this may have been the case. Little thought, however, is given to the validity of this method for the period before the Diocletianic reforms. Comparing coin finds from different sites is only valid when supply to those sites might reasonably be expected to be uniform. This is true after Diocletian, when all coins came from centralised mints, but in the Classical, Hellenistic and high Imperial periods, many cities in the east produced their own coinage. Higher average annual coin loss in these periods is more likely simply to reflect increased activity of the local mint. For these periods Evans' Chi-Squared test (116–17) simply confirms that coins did not come from a unified source.

In chapter 3, "Archaeological contexts of note," Evans draws on the excellent recording system at Sardis, including a database, described on p. 2, that allowed her to bring together coins and other objects from the same context with great ease.3 A principal concern of the archaeological contexts chapter is to explore how long coins remained in circulation. Thus Evans is able to show, on the basis of independently dated contexts, that Hellenistic coins appear to have remained in circulation well into the first century AD. Better known from other sites in the eastern Mediterranean and confirmed by the Sardis material, is the fact that fourth-century coins were still circulating in the fifth-century. More surprising is the reasonable frequency with which third-century coins also turn up in fifth-century contexts, and Evans argues that these were still part of the monetary pool. The chapter also examines coins found in votive deposits and in graves. Here Evans' interpretations are a little too fanciful for this reviewer's tastes: why, for example, should the two coins in the votive deposits in field 49 have been chosen specifically for their reverse types (62–3)? I cannot agree that the wear on one of these coins indicates that it "came directly from the mint into the [deposit]". Coin 100.1 is considered to have been deliberately smoothed on one side to remove the imperial portrait (66), which seems inconsistent with the interpretation of coin 172.3, which also has one side smoothed away, but is said to have been in circulation for a long time or subjected to particular secondary depositional forces (60). Nonetheless, there is much interesting material here, not least the apparent preference for particular reverse types in graves (68–9), and a series of early imperial deposits all consisting of a coin, an eggshell and assorted bronze and iron implements.

For the late Roman and Byzantine contexts discussed in this chapter Evans introduces a new calculation, which she dubs the Mean Coin Date (MCD). The math is adequately explained in the appendix (117), but nowhere are we told how we are supposed to interpret the figure. The text talks of the percentage of coins in a deposit struck before and after the MCD, but this does not seem to lead to any conclusions that could not be gleaned simply from looking at the lists of coins. Confusion is compounded by the fact that the figures given in the text for the fifth-century deposits do not match up with those given in the footnotes (82, with footnote 160).4

The catalogue is well laid out and easy to use. There are, however, some concerns regarding Evans' dating of the Roman provincial coins, which is either too precise or not precise enough. For coins without an imperial portrait, she pays no attention to magistrates' names, which often allow a far more precise dating than that which she gives.5 For the coins of Sardis, she gives a false impression of precision. For example, coin types 157–58 are dated in the text of RPC to "between 63 and 68", and in RPC's catalogue to "c. AD 65", which becomes for Evans simply "65 AD". This becomes particularly problematic when one of these coins is used to give a terminus post quem of a votive deposit. 6 More serious though is the misattribution of coins: coin 127.1 is not an unpublished coin of Smyrna, but a coin of Apamea Myrlea in Bithynia under the Roman proconsul A. Vibius Pansa,7 and coin 320.1 is a coin of Gallienus, not Carinus.8

Similar problems are unfortunately to be found throughout the text as well. The book would have benefited greatly from a more detailed editing process. The author's thought is not always easy to follow and despite hints that the book is intended for a non-numismatic audience (e.g. glossing the term "overstriking" at p. 7, footnote 16), complex numismatic ideas are introduced with little explanation or clarification. For example, in the discussion of Hellenistic coins we read things like, "The Apollo/club coins do appear to fall into denomination B/C (under Antiochus II) or C (under Seleucus II) or could even be tied to the Attalid one-unit coin" (18). Nowhere is it explained what these denominational terms refer to or where the classification comes from.9 On p. 60 one deposit is discussed in much the same terms in two consecutive paragraphs, without any indication that the material under discussion is the same. Of the typos and other errors that might have been picked up in the editorial process, only the most serious can be noted here.10

Some errors must, however, be ascribed to the author and not the editor. Most concerning to this reviewer is the alarming frequency with which other scholars' views are misrepresented. The following are those that have come to my attention, which naturally reflect my own knowledge of the literature:

p. 29: In his book Das System der kaiserzeitlichen Münzprägung in Kleinasien, Kraft did not argue that dies for the Roman provincial coinage were only shared within the conventus. In fact, he proved that this idea, posited by Louis Robert, could not stand. Kraft also never suggested that reverse dies were shared between different cities.
p. 32: To my knowledge, Johnston never suggested that die-engraver workshops had influenced circulation pools or predicted that coins from Antioch in Pisidia and Attalea in Pamphylia would be found at Sardis. She certainly did not do so at p. 240 of her Greek Imperial Denominations, which is cited by Evans on this point.
p. 66: Neither Clay, whose review of the 1988 publication of the coins from the sacred spring at Bath Evans cites, nor Walker, the original publisher, argue that coins were deliberately selected by the depositor on the basis of reverse types. Rather, both saw the deposit as indicative of the circulation of particular types in Britain.
p. 143: Spoerri-Butcher (in Schweizerische Numismatische Rundschau 2009) disagreed with Johnston's analysis of denominations at Roman colonies during the third century, but did not discuss denominations at Sardis, as Evans suggests.

Mistakes such as these diminish confidence in the book, and its conclusions, as a whole. This is greatly to be regretted, particularly considering that analysis of coin finds from excavations in the eastern Mediterranean lags so far behind that done on sites in northern and western Europe. That being the case, if this book, despite its faults, can stimulate more attempts to do more with excavation coins than simply list the material, it is to be welcomed with open arms.


1.   H. W. Bell, Sardis XI: Coins. Pt. 1: 1910-1914 (Leiden: Brill, 1916); G. E. Bates, Byzantine Coins, Archaeological Exploration of Sardis Monograph 1 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971); T. V. Buttrey et al., Greek, Roman, and Islamic Coins from Sardis, Archaeological Exploration of Sardis Monograph 7 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981).
2.   These coins are all considered circulating media at Sardis, and Evans does not engage with Butcher's idea (e.g. in Small Change in Ancient Beirut. The Coin Finds from BEY 006 and 045 (Beirut: American University of Beirut, 2003), pp. 40–41) that foreign coins might be found in excavations precisely because they were not valid currency.
3.   The preface states that this database will be made available online at, but to date only 21 coins have been uploaded.
4.   The footnote also includes the baffling claim that fewer than 39% of coins in deposit 6 were minted after the deposit's median date, which is, per definitionem, impossible.
5.   E.g. I. Pollion on coins 107.1–4 is known from the reign of Hadrian (RPC III.1741), and Au. Neikostratos on coin 110.1 is known from the reign of Gordian III (RPC VII-1.349).
6.   Coin 157.2, discussed in section 3.2.3, not 3.2.2 as stated in the catalogue.
7.   cf. W. H. Waddington, E. Babelon, T. Reinach, Recueil général des monnaies grecques d'Asie Mineure (Paris: Leroux, 1908–25) part II, p. 250 no. 31.
8.   RIC V.1 p. 144 no. 159; Evans has misread the scales in the figure's right hand as numerals in the field.
9.   The terminology seems to be that of A. Houghton and C. Lorber, Seleucid Coins: A Comprehensive Catalogue. Part 1: Seleucus I to Antiochus III (New York: American Numismatic Society, 2002).
10.   Latin letters have been introduced into the Greek coin legend on p. 63. Coin 111.1 is 26 mm in diameter, not 16 mm. The reverse of coin 167.1 actually shows two Demoi with an altar in between. The obverse and reverse descriptions of coin 168.1 have been transposed. The obverse legend of coins 184.1–4 should read ЄΠΙ ΔΑΡΙΟΥ.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019


Marcus Deufert, Kritischer Kommentar zu Lukrezens 'De rerum natura'. Texte und Kommentare, Band 56. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2018. Pp. x, 516. ISBN 9783110414714. €149,95.

Reviewed by Nicoletta Bruno, Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, München​ (

Version at BMCR home site

Table of Contents

The Kritischer Kommentar zu Lukrezens 'De rerum natura' by Marcus Deufert is the result of tireless work on the Lucretian text and is partly a tribute to Karl Lachmann—as Deufert himself acknowledges (p. V)—and to the practice of writing commentaries that exclusively address questions of textual criticism. It may seem old-fashioned to publish a critical commentary together with the critical text, but there is nothing more useful than a work like this to justify textual choices and to guide the reader step by step in explaining the text. The praefatio of a critical edition can only provide a general survey of the method and stemmatic relationships, but cannot go into detail on specific choices. Together with the Prolegomena, published in 2017, and the Teubner critical text, published in April 2019, this provides a very comprehensive outline of the Lucretian text, which represents over twenty years of Deufert's Lucretian scholarship.

The De rerum natura (DRN) is famous for its abundant repetitions, which have been interpreted in various ways: some argue that they are a mnemonic tool to help readers memorize Epicurean precepts; others think that they are a sign of Lucretius's poetic immaturity; and still others take them as strong evidence of interpolation. In an earlier study, Deufert argued for the deletion of about 370 verses as later interpolations.1 In the Kommentar, Deufert is more cautious but he still firmly believes that most of those suspicious verses are spurious. By contrast, David Butterfield, editor of the future OCT Lucretius, believes that the DRN is incomplete: for him the work was unrevised. In this respect, Butterfield agrees with H. Diels, R. Heinze, C. Bailey and E. J. Kenney, who are all reluctant to find interpolations among the textual inconsistencies, and who focus on other difficulties in the text such as incomplete verses and inconsistences of content and style. Deufert is not inclined to accept radical interventions, such as conjectures and transpositions, which he often relegates, even the most convincing ones, to the apparatus. In this respect his approach is generally conservative.

Deufert proposes the removal of about 220 verses across 60 passages, which he considers spurious. Moreover, he makes frequent use of cruces desperationis. The critical question is this: is the DRN an incomplete and imperfect work or a complete and interpolated one? According to Deufert, the text is complete and was interpolated in the early stages of its circulation.2 Since the supposed interpolated lines are already in the Lucretian text as it is known to authors of the first century AD, such as Seneca and Quintilian, Deufert believes that the interpolations were very ancient, within approximately fifty years of Lucretius's death. The basis for his belief is found in the Anecdoton Parisinum (Paris BN lat. 7530, ff. 23r-29r), which reports that the grammarian Probus (late 1st century AD) added critical notes to various poetic texts, including that of Lucretius. This report would have come from a lost work by Suetonius. Furthermore, Jerome states that he had commentaries on Lucretius in Adversus Rufinum 1, 16. These are commentaries that could perhaps be related to Probus' work.

The spurious passages identified by Deufert are certainly problematic from a stylistic and syntactic point of view and inconsistent in their content. In what follows, I will briefly show how Deufert faces three complex Lucretian passages: the preface of Book 4, verses 1-25 and verses 1211-1217 and 1341-1349 of the fifth book.

One of the most discussed problems concerns the proem of Book 4, lines 1-25, which is almost the same as 1, 926-950. Deufert refers to the long demonstration carried out in his book of 1996 (pages 81-96). There were four possibilities to explain this long repetition in the text: 1) Lucretius is the author of only the vv. 926-50, written in Book 1 ; 2) an interpolator moved to the first part of Book 4 the verses written in Book 1; 3) Lucretius first wrote the verses of the proem of Book 4 and then he moved them to Book 1; 4) an interpolator added the verses of Book 4 to Book 1. Deufert's idea is that the author of the verses of Book 1 was Lucretius, and therefore the verses are authentic, while those of Book 4 were written by an interpolator. Lines 921-50 are consistent in themselves, since they resume the controversy against Heraclitus and the end of the first preface and introduce the end of the first book. The interpolator would have written only nam to 4, 11 instead of sed of 1, 936. Deufert (p. 201) also criticizes Butterfield:

"Bei der Übertragung der Verse 926-960 an den Beginn des vierten Buchs dürfte die glattere und leichtere kausale Konjunktion nam—sei es bewusst, sei es unbewusst—die anspruchsvollere, aber untadelige adversative Konjunktion sed verdrängt haben, die Butterfield (2016 p. 27-29)3 gewiss zu Unrecht in 1, 936 durch nam ersetzen möchte: Butterfield übergeht in seiner Paraphrase des Zusammenhangs, dass Lukrez den Vers 935 negativ formuliert hat (non … uidetur), was die Voraussetzung dafür ist, dass er mit adversativem sed fortfahren kann" (p. 201).

According to Butterfield, Lucretius himself did write the verses that stand in the manuscripts as both 1, 926-50 and 4, 1-25. Moreover, Deufert, in the Kommentar believes that Book 4 of the DRN originally did not have its own proem, unlike the other books. To support this, he quotes a recent study by Michael Erler, who cites as a parallel the proem-less beginning of Book 2 of Apollonius Rhodius's Argonautica.4 In general, if Lucretius has neither revised nor published an edition of his poem himself, it is unlikely that infelicities in the text can all be explained as errors in transmission. Butterfield comes to this cautious conclusion: "the Lucretian editor should certainly not improve the ordering of the poem for him by rearranging paragraphs and arguments, regardless of what Lucretius might have intended, unless the transposition could be correcting a genuine error of transmission".5 On the other hand, if we accept Deufert's hypothesis, that the poem had been completed by Lucretius, the deletion of 4, 1-25, and many other passages that Deufert removes, would be consistent and acceptable.

There are several sections that Deufert prefers to print in his new text compared to his 1996 book. One is 5, 1211-1217, which he formerly considered spurious since it broke a sequence in style and content. These lines arise from a doubt among men regarding the movement of the stars: should they believe the Epicurean doctrine about the beginning and the end of the world (as indicated in 1212-4) or believe that the gods will guarantee an eternal duration of the universe (1215-7)? The authenticity of the verses has been questioned not only by Deufert in 1996 (pages 299-301) but also by Gerhard Müller,6 who removed the vv. 1215-7. In this regard, Deufert wrote: "1211-7 sind durch die Konstruktion dubiam mentem (1211)… ecquaenam (1212) … et simul ecquaean (1215) … eindeutig als eine einheitliche Periode konstruiert" (Deufert 1996, p. 301). Deufert in the Kommentar (p. 349), with mature and concise analysis, changes his previous idea and states that he no longer shares Müller's arguments for the excision of three lines, because: "gewiss ist zu labentia (genauso wie zuvor in 1215 zu aeterna donata salute) grammatisch moenia mundi aus 1213 zu ergänzen, aber die moenia mundi stehen hier als pars pro toto für den mundus selbst: Genau wie diesen denkt sich die mens dubia auch dessen Grenzmauern unsterblich und in ruhig-gleitender Bewegung befindlich". He concludes his demonstration to preserve vv. 1211-1217 by providing some examples taken from the ThLL that show the presence in the same sentence of labi and mundus.

Another controversial passage is 5, 1341-1349, where the logic is hard to follow but it is clear that Lucretius, or the interpolator, tries to explain why men could have done such incredible actions in war. The peculiarity of 1341-9 for Deufert lies in the fact that Lucretius allows doubts to remain. This is contrary to what he elsewhere sought to achieve: resolving doubts, removing fears, finding answers as close as possible to the truth (vera ratio). Although today it may seem bizarre, Housman (CR 42, 1928, 122-3) hypothesized that lines 1341-3 and 1347-9 were a sarcastic comment by Cicero, whom he accepted as Lucretius's first editor. Bailey's remarks on these verses are extreme: "this paragraph ... makes me wonder whether Jerome was not right, and Lucretius' mind was from time to time deranged". According to Deufert, the purpose of Lucretius' work is to explain the nature of things, based on empirical and analogical demonstrations, without moralistic and catastrophic judgments or predictions about the future: "Lukrez ist weder geisteskrank noch der Nostradamus der Antike, sondern ein klar denkender Anhänger der epikureischen Philosophie".7

The Kritischer Kommentar is a mine of information. The enormous merit of this text is its precise discussion—by words or by sections of the text—of almost all the verses of the entire DRN: this characteristic makes it an essential text for consultation. The commentary, detailed and rich in information, but never verbose, offers a lucid and effectively critical reading of the text and the history of its interpretation.

To conclude, the volume of Deufert leaves the impression, more disconcerting than one might expect, that there are numerous passages of the DRN that still require further treatment or are in a desperate state. He offers many solutions, but leaves almost as many questions. We may have to wait for a careful reading of his critical edition.


1.   Deufert, M. Pseudo-Lukrezisches im Lukrez: Die unechten Verse in Lukrezens „De rerum natura" (Berlin; New York 1996),
2.   There are no contemporary sources on the biography of Lucretius or composition of the DRN apart from the witnesses of Cicero and Jerome.
3.   Butterfield, D. J. "Some Problems in the Text and Transmission of Lucretius" in R. Hunter—S. P. Oakley (edd.), Latin Literature and its Transmission. Papers in Honour of Michael Reeve. Cambridge 2016, 22–53.
4.   Erler, M.. "Lukrez und Apollonios Rhodios. Zur Frage des Proömiums zu Buch IV" in Kulte, Priester, Rituale—Beiträge zu Kult und Kultkritik im Alten Testament und Alten Orient: Festschrift für Theodor Seidl zum 65. Geburtstag, edited by S. Ernst—M. Häusl. St. Ottilien 2010, 473-482.
5.   Butterfield, D. J. The Early Textual History of Lucretius' De rerum natura. Cambridge 2013, 273.
6.   Müller, G. "Die Problematik des Lukreztextes seit Lachmann" in Philologus 103, 1959, 53-86.
7.   Deufert, M. Pseudo-Lukrezisches im Lukrez: Die unechten Verse in Lukrezens „De rerum natura". Berlin; New York 1996, 274. It is worth retracing the editorial choices that have divided Lucretian scholars over the last two hundred years. Lachmann reads sic instead of si in 1341 (conjectured by Marullus). Furthermore, he inverts the order of 1342-3 to 1343-2, which certainly brings more consistency to the content. However, Lachmann deletes 1344-6 on the grounds that they were written by a lector philosophus or an interpolator (interpolator irrisor). Munro deletes verses 1341-46 as a whole, agreeing with Lachmann about lines 1344-46. Giussani believes that these lines are a note written by Lucretius himself but at a later time. According to Ernout, the conclusion of this section of verses is quite disconcerting. Ernout follows Lachmann in expunging only 1344-6. Diels, like Lachmann, expunges 1344-6 as certainly interpolated, and believes that there is a gap before verse 1341, which he fills with the words sic miseri sero cognorunt damna ferarum. Martin transposes 1347-9 after 1340, but leaves 1341-6.

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Frédérique Duyrat, Wealth and Warfare: The Archaeology of Money in Ancient Syria. Numismatic studies, 34. New York: American Numismatic Society, 2016. Pp. xxvii, 596. ISBN 9780897223461. $200.00.

Reviewed by Rebecca Dodd, Independent Scholar, University of Glasgow (

Version at BMCR home site

This substantial and ambitious volume covers the full range of hoards and site finds of ancient Syrian coins from areas which today comprise modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Turkey, and brings together these sometimes disparate finds with detailed and coherent discussion of coins as historical sources. While the main focus of this work is the Hellenistic period, the author gives attention to the pre-Hellenistic Phoenician issues and to the coins of Alexander, while acknowledging that future studies should include the Roman period (p. 23). Indeed, one of the most significant contributions that this work makes to our knowledge of Hellenistic coins is that it clearly demonstrates throughout that ancient Syria was ruled and occupied by many different peoples, whereas much modern scholarship has focused on the Seleucids. Categorising this book is challenging; its sheer size and the amount of material covered make it an excellent reference source for any and all of the topics covered, especially in terms of its detailed catalogue and tables. In addition, the discussion chapters are written in a lively and accessible style that will appeal to students and professionals alike.

The catalogue occupies just under half of this volume and is placed at the beginning rather than being relegated to a final appendix as is often the case. This novel structure serves to underscore the importance of the coins and hoards as the foundation on which the study's evidence is built. Each hoard or archaeological excavation is discussed in turn, and each entry contains its own bibliography in chronological order by publication date. This has the double effect of giving a clear demonstration of the current state of scholarship and of illustrating a frequent problem with numismatic research, namely that academic studies can be scattered across rare numismatic journals and more obscure publications. Moreover, this chapter is a useful reference on its own merits thanks to its efficient and thorough review of both archaeological and scholarly evidence.

Chapter 3, "A Source to be Reconstituted", begins with a detailed discussion of the problems of assigning hoard provenance where this is uncertain, whether as a result of difficulties with publication methods or of new discoveries. This is followed by a discussion of the problems presented by the antiquities trade, underlining the fact that many and indeed most ancient coins find themselves in the commercial antiquities market, legally or illegally. Moreover, issues relating to the antiquities trade and the law are discussed throughout this section, as are archaeological programmes and conventions across different countries and regions. The effect of modern conflicts on the collection of coins and hoards is also treated here. Perhaps unusual for a scholarly publication, the author incorporates lively correspondence between archaeologists, scholars, and others, which breathes much needed excitement and vitality into the often-dry field of ancient numismatics, and consequently this chapter may be especially interesting to students. Moreover, for the same reasons, these texts are likely to appeal to anyone teaching numismatics. The chapter finishes with a discussion of why hoards were formed and buried, which, again, provides a rigorous but accessible discussion suitable for beginners and experts alike.

Chapter 4, "Before Alexander", is a wide-ranging treatment of pre-Hellenistic coin hoards beginning with Persian hoards. Early sections of the chapter discuss non-denominated coinages, including weighted silver and Hacksilber, which serves as an excellent reminder of the early development of coinage. Detailed tables in this chapter give a full rundown of all of the archaeological finds in each coin hoard including jewellery, ingots, and figurines, which serve as clear evidence of the author's argument that one of the functions of coin hoards was as a collection of an individual's personal valuables, or "buried treasure", as described throughout the work. The bulk of this chapter, however, is dedicated to the influx, imitation, and local minting of Athenian owl coins from the fifth through fourth centuries. The author uses comprehensive evidence from several relevant coin hoards to make the solid argument that while owl tetradrachms were used internationally, smaller denominations featuring the iconic owl seem only to have circulated locally. This section could easily stand alone as a self-contained study, but it also serves to place Hellenistic coins within their historical context.

Chapter, 5, "Alexander and the Successors", is a short treatment of the gradual displacement of Persian coinage with Alexander's silver coinage in Syria and the Near East. Persian and owl-type Athenian coins seem to have circulated alongside Alexander's coinages until around 325, which the author argues came about as a result of the initial usage of Alexander's coinage by Macedonian soldiers, and they were not fully displaced by Alexander's coins until 320. As before, mixed coin hoards are the main source of evidence for this assertion. The issue of Alexander's gold coinage also receives treatment in this chapter, with a full analysis of why gold coins were produced in an area with no local gold mines.

Chapter 6, "The Two Syrias", covers the challenging issue of the partition of Syria between Ptolemy Soter and Seleucus I. Few written sources exist for this time period, and archaeological sources give few indications of who was in control of what territory at any given time. The author demonstrates that there are no instances of coin hoards with mixed Seleucid and Ptolemaic coinage, indicating clearly that the currencies were not used interchangeably. The maps contained within the book's appendix provide a visualisation of the demarcation between Ptolemaic and Seleucid Syria. These maps would perhaps have been more helpful if they had been placed within the text.

Chapter 7, "From Kings to Cities", is a lengthy and detailed study of the development of local coin types, particularly in the years following the reign of Antiochus III. This is evidenced by the increase in local silver types and wreathed tetradrachms. Hasmonean bronze coinages are treated here, as well as other civic issues, which circulated alongside Seleucid silver. This chapter is especially important for its treatment of bronze coinages and their local circulation, which serves as valuable evidence for the increasing local fragmentation of the Seleucid empire.

Chapter 8, "Wealth and Coinage", is a brief treatment of the relationship between the container within which a hoard was stored and the contents of the hoard itself. To briefly sum up, there does not seem to have been any relationship between the two.

Chapter 9, "Coin Use and Monetization", covers the evolving nature of the everyday usage of coins for economic purposes. It establishes that the use of gold coins was quite rare and that silver coins were the main medium for exchange. This chapter also discusses the extent to which the economy was not monetized and systems of barter remained in place. One of the more interesting conclusions of this chapter is that the numismatic evidence that we have available seems to indicate that not enough coins were/could have been minted in order to ensure a fully monetized economy. The flow of silver coins throughout Syria, as evidenced by hoards, supports the thesis that silver was widely interchangeable. The challenging problem of whether or not civic bronzes were interchangeable between cities continues the detailed treatment introduced in Chapter 7.

Few criticisms can be offered. The author does use quotations from and references to modern, and especially French, literature and popular culture on occasion throughout the book, which some may find distracting from the main arguments. That said, these references may prove welcome in a teaching setting, for which this book is well-suited. The grayscale charts and diagrams contained within the text can occasionally prove difficult to read and are sometimes less visually compelling than could be desired. The legends within the charts, however, are clear and consistent, and the accompanying text more than compensates for any confusion created by the charts themselves. As noted above, there are places where the maps could have been better placed within the text.

This short review cannot really do justice to this important work. It is full and complete and not only stimulates further interest in the subjects the book specifically covers but also sets the stage for study in other cognate areas. The detailed catalogue is central to the arguments contained within the discussions and is well-referenced throughout. The author makes a well-founded case for coin hoards and their value as historical evidence, while acknowledging the gaps in our knowledge. Many of the chapters and the sections within could serve as standalone studies, but they are all brought together admirably to create a full picture of coins and coin circulation (or the lack of same) in ancient Syria. While it is likely that some of the specifics of this work will become outdated in the light of the welcome addition of new archaeological finds, nevertheless the overall methodologies and concepts will doubtlessly always have value. This work is more than a scholarly monograph in that it can serve as a valuable resource with materials which will be useful for researchers, students, and teachers alike.

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Maria Sapio (ed.), Le armi di Athena: il Santuario settentrionale di Paestum. Napoli: Arte'm, 2017. Pp. 256. ISBN 9788856906080. €25,00 (pb).

Reviewed by Christopher Smith, University of St Andrews (

Version at BMCR home site

A small exhibition of the votives from the sanctuary of Athena at Paestum has given rise to this extremely valuable book, which takes a much broader contextual view. Anyone interested in votive-deposit behaviour will want to look at this significant contribution, which includes essays by a number of the most prominent figures in the archaeology of Paestum.

The deposit runs from the late sixth to the third century BC, and spans therefore a critical moment of transition as the colony builds the great temples which are iconic representations of the city, through to its late third century BC wall. The sanctuary is complex; there are a number of small monuments, altars and pits around the main temple. When scholarly investigation began, this was identified as the "temple of Ceres," solely, as far as we can make out, because of its proximity to a gate and the assumption that this was the traditional place in Greek cities for the goddess Demeter. The temple survived early interventions until the more systematic work by A. Maiuri and P. Sestieri, who found the votives around the temple area. (The location of the finds is not so easy to deduce from the text or its graphics).

The earliest cult building on the site is dated from its terracotta decoration to around 580 BC. A bronze inscription from the early sixth century seems to refer to the relationship between Poseidonia and Sybaris, possibly the mother-city. The votives increase in number in the second half of the sixth century, with increasing amounts of pottery (often connected to drinking), statuettes( including an Athena Promachos), and both real size and miniaturized armour and weapons. After the temple burnt down in the late sixth century it was replaced with the structure we see today, a large altar to the front, and further monumentalization of the temenos. Terracotta votives continue, the ceramic dedications become larger, and we start to see new representations of Athena with a Phrygian helmet, or with her shield by her side. These, it is suggested, may relate to political allegiances (for instance with Thurii, whose connections to Athens may be relevant to the adoption of the iconography of Athena with a Phrygian helmet and a less terrifying aegis). The fourth century sees an increase in offerings, a number of representations of seated women, and banqueting ceramics. These are closely paralleled at another sanctuary near the east gate of the city. The suggestion is offered that both sites represent cults related to the transition of young men and women to adulthood, but the east gate perhaps looks towards the surrounding agrarian population.

A significant part of the volume is dedicated to the metalwork from the site, which includes not only armour but also graters, cooking instruments, vases and even keys (sometimes attributed metaphorically to childbirth wishes). One object stands out; the bronze statuette of a woman on an Ionic capital raising the right hand. According to the inscription it was dedicated by Phillo, daughter of Charmylidas, as a tithe to Athena. The catalogue plausibly proposes that the figure surmounted a candelabrum.

Of the armour, 94% is of real size and of that 70% are shields, whereas 41% of the miniaturized dedications are breastplates. Armour is found elsewhere in Paestum at the other sanctuaries and is of course also to be found in Greece. The catalogue comprises a substantial section on dedications of Greek armour. The custom is well-attested in the sources, including Homer, so the practice is sanctioned by aristocratic custom. The exhibition, conservation, and defunctionalization of armour seem clearly to relate to mechanisms of memory and self-promotion. The use of miniaturized armour is an interesting and widespread phenomenon, usually attributed to an economic decision to limit expenditure ( hence sometimes associated with the world of mercenaries who could ill afford to give up their armour), to rites of passage, or symbolizing vows for success in battle. The places of production of such armour are sometimes found close to sanctuaries, and there is scope for f additional work on this feature at Paestum.

One line of thought that might be explored further leads us back to Phillo's dedication. Could armour be a natural tithing object? We have little information about tithing, but it must have been a significant element of sanctuary life. Armour, including in miniature, as a symbol of wealth, status and manliness might be an ideal expression in the context of tithing. This well-produced and informative volume offers a range of material and information on which to take such speculation further.

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Gary D. Farney, Guy Jolyon Bradley (ed.), The Peoples of Ancient Italy. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2018. Pp. vii, 779. ISBN 9781614515203. €229.95.

Reviewed by Stéphane​ Bourdin, Université Lumière Lyon 2 – UMR 5189 HiSoMa​ (

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[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

Au moment où paraissent chez le même éditeur, deux tomes sur les Étrusques,1 G.D. Farney et G. Bradley fournissent un imposant volume consacré aux peuples de l'Italie préromaine. On ne peut que se réjouir de disposer de sommes importantes, en anglais, portant sur le peuplement et l'histoire de la Péninsule italienne au Ier millénaire avant J.-C. Ce volume, contrairement à ce que les curateurs affirment en préambule, n'est certes pas le premier à présenter un cadre complexe du peuplement de l'Italie préromaine.2 Les ouvrages antérieurs sont d'ailleurs amplement utilisés et cités par les auteurs des différentes contributions.

L'ouvrage est divisé en deux parties : la première traite de thèmes transversaux (l'économie, la diversité linguistique, la religion…) et des grandes phases historiques (la conquête romaine, la 2e guerre punique, la guerre sociale) ; la seconde est consacrée à des contributions portant chacune sur une population, en partant de l'extrême sud de la Péninsule et en remontant vers le nord, jusqu'à la plaine du Pô, qui est fort heureusement incluse. Cette volonté manifeste d'exhaustivité et de ne pas surévaluer la présence d'une population par rapport à une autre nous vaut ainsi des synthèses d'autant plus intéressantes qu'elles sont rares sur les Aurunces, sur les Vestins, sur les Falisques et les Capénates etc. On s'étonnera alors de quelques omissions : si l'Italie centrale est bien décrite avec des contributions sur les Samnites, les Vestins, les Èques ou sur les Marses, pourquoi ne trouve-t-on rien sur les Péligniens ou sur les Marrucins? De même, si un effort très louable est fait pour présenter les populations de Cisalpine (Ligures, Celtes, Vénètes), pourquoi a-t-on fait l'impasse sur les Rhètes et sur toutes les populations du versant italien des Alpes, qui appartiennent pleinement à l'espace cisalpin et font partie—notamment comme adtributi aux villes du piedmont—de l'Italie romaine? Les Rhètes et les populations de la Val Camonica n'apparaissent que dans la contribution de D.F. Maras sur les inscriptions. Ces omissions sont d'autant plus surprenantes qu'on évoque dans un des chapitres les « Prétutiens » (O. Menozzi et A. Chiarico, p. 579-602), dont l'existence en tant que groupe ethnique est loin d'être évidente.3 De la même manière, alors que les peuples d'Italie sont constamment décrits dans le cadre de leurs relations avec Rome, on peut déplorer que les interactions avec le monde méditerranéen (Phéniciens et Puniques, Grecs), avec les îles, avec l'Illyrie et le monde celtique continental n'aient pas fait l'objet d'un traitement spécifique. Un chapitre sur la Grande Grèce semblerait en particulier indispensable. Les poleis grecques, qui n'apparaissent guère ici que dans la contribution de M.W. Horneaes sur la monnaie, sont pourtant une réalité incontournable et participent pleinement de l'histoire de l'Italie préromaine.

Les contributions sont toutes globalement de qualité, même si, inévitablement, d'un niveau parfois un peu inégal. Si plusieurs textes se bornent à reproduire ou à énumérer un certain nombre de données (les informations contenues dans la Géographie de Strabon, sans aucune considération pour la Cisalpine pourtant largement décrite par le géographe d'Amasée pour D.W. Roller, p. 27-34, les différentes émissions monétaires pour H.W. Horneaes, p. 35-61 ou les différentes langues d'Italie pour N. Zair, p. 127-148), d'autres proposent fort heureusement de bonnes synthèses, comme D. Briquel sur la question de l'horizon mythographique (p. 11-26), D.F. Maras sur l'épigraphie et l'onomastique (p. 63-88, avec notamment la question de la mise en place du système gentilice) et M. Di Fazio sur la religion (p. 149-172). Deux dossiers en particulier retiennent l'attention : la question de l'identité ethnique elle-même et celle des différentes étapes de la « romanisation ».

Le premier de ces thèmes transversaux est donc la question de l'expression et de la perception des différences, à travers les manifestations de l'ethnicité, et de l'existence même des peuples. Deux contributions reviennent sur les critères de définition des différents ensembles ethniques. E. Benelli (p. 89-103) rappelle les difficultés d'attribution de la documentation archéologique à des étiquettes ethniques définies par les sources littéraires, en prenant l'exemple du matériel des nécropoles d'Italie centrale. Dans le même ordre d'idée, R. Scopacasa (p. 105-126) expose de façon très claire les enjeux du phénomène de définition ethnique (ethnicité)—même si on peut lui reprocher (p. 105) de mettre dans la même catégorie ethnè (peuples) et populi (qui correspondent à des unités politiques). Il passe en revue les éléments sur lesquels se fondent l'identité ethnique d'un groupe, notamment le nom ethnique (manifesté dès le Ve s. avec le terme safin- à Penna Sant'Andrea ou avec la légende monétaire Kampanos), le territoire et ses frontières, les éléments culturels et enfin les liens entre identité ethnique et organisation politique—les identités ethniques servant souvent de « ciment » pour les ligues et autres groupes « confédéraux ».

Le deuxième thème transversal—la conquête, l'intégration de l'Italie dans le système confédéral romain et la romanisation culturelle qui en découle—court à travers 7 contributions. S. Roselaar (p. 173-190) tente le tour de force de retracer l'évolution socio-économique de l'Italie du VIIIe au Ier s. av. J.-C. environ, ce qui la contraint à insister sur les phénomènes généraux (le grand commerce étrusque, l'exploitation de l'ager publicus et le développement des cultures spéculatives, de l'élevage transhumant et du commerce italien en Méditerranée aux IVe-IIe s., les productions de grandes séries céramiques, l'augmentation démographique et la proportion toujours croissante de population de statut servile). G. Bradley et J. Hall (p. 191-214) retracent les grandes étapes de la conquête et le développement de l'impérialisme romain ; deux de ces étapes sont analysées de façon plus détaillée par M.P. Fronda (p. 215-230 : le rôle des Italiens dans la 2e guerre punique) et F. Santangelo (p. 231-253), dans deux belles contributions qui mettent en évidence les lignes de fractures internes (entre communautés d'un même peuple ou entre « plèbes » et « nobles » d'une même cité). L'intégration dans le système militaire et politique romain est ensuite envisagée par P.A. Kent, qui décrit le fonctionnement des foedera et de la formula togatorum (p. 255-268) et par T.D. Stek qui fournit une synthèse très à jour sur les débats actuels touchant à la colonisation romaine et latine et à son impact culturel, économique et politique (p. 269-294), en montrant que la colonisation n'est plus tellement considérée désormais comme l'imposition d'un modèle urbain par Rome, mais plutôt comme une série d'expériences pragmatiques, de cohabitations et d'interactions multiformes entre « colons » et « indigènes ». R. Roth enfin prolonge ces réflexions (p. 295-317) en dressant un bilan des discussions autour de la question complexe de la « romanisation » et en mettant en avant les concepts très en vogue de « networks », de « cultural connectivity » et d'« agency ».

Ces deux grands thèmes laissent toutefois de côté certaines questions qui auraient mérité d'être exposées plus clairement. Il manque une synthèse sur les formes d'organisation politique—qui ne sont évoquées qu'à travers les différentes contributions régionales, celle de G. Tagliamonte sur les Samnites notamment. Le phénomène des tombes « princières » et la mise en place des systèmes monarchiques, maintes fois évoqués à propos des Étrusques, des Latins, des Vestins, des Picéniens etc., la généralisation de la cité-État et l'organisation des magistratures, le fonctionnement des ligues (commandement militaire, représentation des populi, diplomatie), toutes ces questions auraient pu faire l'objet d'un chapitre de synthèse. De même, l'organisation territoriale, le phénomène urbain ou la remise en cause du concept d'organisation paganico-vicanica, désormais tombé en désuétude mais auquel certaines contributions font encore référence (O. Menozzi et V. Acconcia, D. Manconi) auraient mérité un traitement plus développé.

La seconde partie présente donc (presque) toutes les populations de la Péninsule, en 19 contributions. On pourra bien sûr lire individuellement chacun de ces textes et y chercher des informations sur les populations afférentes. Je conseillerais toutefois une lecture en continu de l'ensemble, car elle met clairement en lumière—tant les textes se répondent l'un l'autre —un certain nombre d'évolutions conjointes : l'émergence des identités et de la structuration sociale à l'extrême fin de l'Âge du Bronze, le renforcement des inégalités et l'affirmation d'élites politiques guerrières au début de l'Âge du Fer, les processus graduels de concentration démographique et d'urbanisation, précoces (dans le Latium, en Étrurie, en Campanie, en Vénétie, dans le monde « golasecchien ») ou plus tardifs (en Apulie, dans le Samnium, en Ombrie), la persistance dans certaines régions d'une organisation plus décentralisée ou polynucléaire, les transformations progressives qui suivent l'insertion dans le système politique romain, avec la réorganisation des réseaux routiers ou du système productif, la participation à la formula togatorum, l'insertion des familles autochtones dans les ordres supérieurs romains etc.

La plupart de ces contributions proposent une heureuse synthèse des informations tirées de la documentation littéraire, de l'épigraphie étrusque, osque etc. et de la documentation archéologique, avec parfois des références à des découvertes très récentes, qui ont bouleversé nos connaissances (comme la fouille des nécropoles de Satricum présentée par M. Gnade, p. 461-472) ; tout au plus pourra-t-on regretter que quelques textes se limitent à l'analyse de la documentation littéraire. Le découpage chronologique varie, selon que les auteurs aient choisi de commencer leur présentation aux premières manifestations d'une culture matérielle distincte, en général à la fin de l'Âge du Bronze, ou qu'ils soient partis plutôt des premières mentions dans les textes de ces populations, nettement postérieures (à partir du Ve s. av. J.-C. par exemple pour les Bruttiens ou les Lucaniens). Dans l'ensemble, le propos est toujours au fait des dernières découvertes et stimulant ; les textes sont soignés, à quelques exceptions près (quelques fautes comme « ethnoi » qui revient plusieurs fois sous la plume de R. Haüssler, p. 723 (3 fois), 725, 726… ; une carte de la Sabine, p. 545, qui n'inclut pas Amiterne… ; Grumentum qui est localisé « en Apulie », p. 239). Chaque contribution insiste bien entendu sur des points particuliers : l'organisation politique des communautés bruttiennes est bien mise en lumière par L. Cappelletti, l'évolution socio-économique des peuples d'Apulie (Dauniens, Peucétiens, Messapiens) par D. Yntema, la différenciation sociale dans les nécropoles latines par F. Fulminante (p. 473-497 ; mais manquent dans cette contribution des informations sur la ligue latine et sur la relation des Latins avec Rome…), l'organisation territoriale décentralisée des Marses par C. Letta, les situations d'inter-culturalité et de mixité ethnique par S. Paltineri et R. Haüssler etc.

Les illustrations sont abondantes, mais curieusement assez mal réparties. Certains chapitres proposent des illustrations de qualité (D. Yntema sur l'Apulie ; G. Tagliamonte sur les Samnites ; O. Menozzi et V. Acconcia sur les Vestins ; S. Paltineri pour les Ligures), alors que d'autres n'en proposent que peu (une carte assez peu lisible dans le chapitre d'E. Benelli sur les Èques ; id. pour J.W. Wonder et les Lucaniens), voire pas du tout (C.J. Smith sur les Aurunces et Sidicins ; C. Letta sur les Marses ; G.D. Farney et G. Masci pour les Sabins ; R. Haüssler pour les Gaulois). Certains textes décrivent même les processions sur les cippes de Chiusi ou les fresques de Paestum alors que les objets correspondant ne sont pas montrés. Il aurait par exemple été possible de proposer des photographies ou du tumulus de Corvaro, de tombes ou de nécropoles de Cerveteri, Orvieto ou Tarquinia, de l'inscription de Prestino, des plans d'agglomérations lucaniennes, des images des imposantes murailles des villes herniques etc.

Malgré leur caractère disparate et quelques approximations, ces contributions apportent toutefois une quantité impressionnante d'informations et proposent une riche moisson de références bibliographiques, qui permettront d'approfondir les différentes questions. Les chapitres de synthèse de la première partie fournissent de même une base solide pour une entrée en matière dans « l'histoire de la première Italie ».4

Table des matières

Farney, Gary D., Bradley, Guy, Introduction, p. 1-8.
Themes in the Study of the Ancient Italian Peoples
Briquel, Dominique, "How to Fit Italy into Greek Myth ?", p. 11-25.
Roller, Duane W., "Strabo and Italian Ethnic Groups", p. 27-34.
Horsnæs, Helle W., "Ancient Italian Numismatics", p. 35-61.
Maras, Daniele F., "Epigraphy and Nomenclature", p. 63-88.
Benelli, Enrico, "Problems in Identifying Central Italic Ethnic Groups", p. 89-103.
Scopacasa, Rafael, "Ethnicity", p. 105-126.
Zair, Nicholas, "Languages of Ancient Italy", p. 127-148.
Di Fazio, Massimiliano, Religions of Ancient Italy, p. 149-172.
Roselaar, Saskia T., "Economy and Demography of Italy", p. 173-190.
Bradley, Guy, Hall, Joshua, "The Roman Conquest of Italy", p. 191-214.
Fronda, Michael P., "The Italians in the Second Punic War", p. 215-230.
Santangelo, Federico, "The Social War", p. 231-253.
Kent, Patrick Alan, "The Italians in Roman Armies", p. 255-268.
Stek, Tesse D., "The impact of Roman expansion and colonization on ancient Italy in the Republican period. From diffusionism to networks of opportunity", p. 269-294.
Roth, Roman, "Beyond Romanisation : settlement, networks and material culture in Italy, c. 400-90 BC", p. 295-317.
The Peoples of Ancient Italy
Cappelletti, Loredana, "The Bruttii", p. 321-336.
Yntema, Douwe, "The Pre-Roman Peoples of Apulia, (1000-10 BC)", p. 337-367.
Wonder, John W., "The Lucanians", p. 369-384.
Mermati, Francesca, "The Campanians", p. 385-418.
Tagliamonte, Gianluca, "The Samnites", p. 419-446.
Smith, Christopher J., "The Aurunci and Sidicini", p. 445-460.
Gnade, Marijke, "The Volscians and Hernicians", p. 461-472.
Fulminante, Francesca, "The Latins", p. 473-497.
Benelli, Enrico, "The Aequi", p. 499-507.
Letta, Cesare, "The Marsi", p. 509-518.
Menozzi, Oliva, Acconcia, Valeria, "The Vestini", p. 519-542.
Farney, Gary D., Masci, Giulia, "The Sabines", p. 543-557.
Tabolli, Jacopo, Neri, Sara, "The Faliscans and the Capenates", p. 559-578.
Menozzi, Oliva, Ciarico, Alessandra, "The Picentes / Piceni", p. 579-602.
Manconi, Dorica, "The Umbri", p. 603-636.
Macintosh Turfa, Jean, "The Etruscans", p. 637-671.
Paltineri, Silvia, "The Ligurians", p. 673-699.
Lomas, Kathryn, "The Veneti", p. 701-717.
Haeussler, Ralph, "The Galli", p. 719-754.


1.   Quant à l'autre volume, voir A. Naso (éd.), Etruscology, 2 vol., Boston; Berlin, 2017 (cf. BMCR 2018.08.14).
2.   Cf. les deux volumes, richement illustrés, Italia omnium terrarum alumna. La civiltà dei Veneti, Reti, Liguri, Celti, Piceni, Umbri, Latini, Campani e Iapigi (Milan, 1988) et Italia omnium terrarum parens. La civiltà degli Enotri, Choni, Ausoni, Sanniti, Lucani, Brettii, Sicani, Siculi, Elimi, (Milan, 1989), le petit ouvrage dirigé par F. Pesando (L'Italia antica. Culture e forme del popolamento nel I millenio a.C., Rome, 2005), le volume dirigé par G. Bradley, E. Isayev, C. Riva, Ancient Italy. Regions without Boundaries (Exeter, 2007), ainsi que la synthèse consacrée au même thème par l'auteur de ces lignes (S. Bourdin, Les peuples de l'Italie préromaine. Identités, territoires et relations inter-ethniques en Italie centrale et septentrionale (VIIIe-Ier s. av. J.-C.), Rome, 2012, BEFAR 350) et encore récemment M. Aberson, M.C. Biella, M. Di Fazio, M. Wullschleger (éd.), Tra archeologia e storia. Dialoghi sulle popolazioni dell'Italia preromana, Francfort, 2014.
3.   A. La Regina, Il Guerriero di Capestrano e le iscrizioni paleosabelliche, dans L. Franchi Dell'Orto (dir.), Pinna Vestinorum e il popolo dei Vestini, Rome, 2010, p. 230-273.
4.   M. Pallottino, Storia della prima Italia, Milan, 1984. ​

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Sunday, June 9, 2019


Amy Richlin, Slave Theater in the Roman Republic: Plautus and Popular Comedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. Pp. 573. ISBN 9781107152311. £110.00.

Reviewed by Serena S. Witzke, Wesleyan University (

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To call this monograph Richlin's magnum opus is probably understating the case. Slave Theater, winner of the Society of Classical Studies' prestigious Goodwin Award in 2018, is the culmination of a career spent examining the voice and lived reality of the subaltern, with all of the pain, tears, laughter, and vulgarity that mark the human experience, from low to high, beginning with the publication of The Garden of Priapus: Sexuality and Aggression in Roman Humor (1983, revised and augmented 1992). In her groundbreaking new work, Richlin explores "what was given" to slaves, freedpersons, and the poor during the late 200s BCE, such as violence, abuse, rape, starvation, and human trafficking; as well as "what was desired" by these persons, like getting even, escape, and basic human dignity. Richlin argues that the Plautine palliata was "slave theater," that is, plays written by comic troupes comprised of enslaved, freed, and impoverished persons and performed for an audience of similar demographics. Plautus is our "author," but the plays we have today are transcripts of performances that changed every time, with improvisation, or shared authorship, of the grex. This "slave theater" played on different registers, one aimed at the elite Roman citizen audience for whom the plays at the ludi were commissioned (the domini) and another at the enslaved and freed persons for whom the servus callidus was a hero.

The volume is comprised of two parts, containing eight chapters and two appendices. Throughout, Richlin grounds her work firmly in performance theory and studies of "hidden transcripts" in transgressive speech, drawing on modern slave songs, folk, fable, and drag, etc. to illustrate the ways in which the slave narratives of the palliata could be hidden in plain sight. Each chapter is near-encyclopedic, containing exhaustive textual references to every example in Plautus. This is a volume for those who thoroughly know the corpus: the complex Plautine plots are reduced to one-to-two-sentence summaries in Appendix II. Others will want a source with character lists and detailed plot summaries nearby (like de Melo's Loeb editions1).

Chapter 1 offers a review of over a century of scholarship on Plautus, performance theory, and humor theory. Richlin establishes on page 1 the fluidity of civil status in ancient Rome: free, enslaved, freed—all possible, none permanent. She rejects the claim of most historians that Roman slaves left little record of their thoughts and feelings, asserting that the palliata was a testament of the enslaved experience. Richlin joins C.W. Marshall in calling this "slave theater," a group effort originating with subaltern persons and speaking to them in performance both through the bodies of the enslaved actors and the words of the enslaved characters. Fraenkel, Slater, McCarthy, and Fontaine on Plautus; Patterson, Finley, Bradley, Joshel, and du Bois on the history of slavery; Freud; modern comedians on humor, all are considered here. The chapter closes with a history of the "politics of reading Plautus," reviewing Dunkin, Duckworth, Oldfather, and Pansiéri (how we read Plautus is a product of our era and circumstances, p. 58). It is here we learn that Richlin's theory that Plautus is subversive slave theater is, itself, subversive.

Chapter 2, "The Body at the Bottom," in Part I: What Was Given, reviews all the ways that enslaved persons were alienated from their natal identities: names stripped, bodies bound and raped, flesh abused, and trafficked from families and homelands. Richlin contends that in order for these on-stage features to evoke audience empathy, they must have been firsthand experiences for at least some of the audience and actors (p. 71). Richlin then reviews the myriad onstage physical punishments suffered by slaves, as well as the ways women and boys were exploited for sex in these androcentric/heterocentric plays. Chapter 3, "Singing for Your Supper," looks at the phenomenon of "cheerleading" in the prologue speeches as a reflection of the military atmosphere in which the plays were being performed. Next, she examines different kinds of rousing speech: flagitatio (public shaming), occentatio (clamoring and arson by a mob in front of an attractive woman's home), and quiritatio (a cry for help), all of which, like cheerleading, seem to encourage audience participation, but were coded as "lower class." The chapter, and section, ends with a discussion of the anxiety around citizen debt (reflected in the flagitatio), which reminded audience members of the thin line between free and enslaved (p. 195), as well as the idea that slaves should be frugi (the slave version of honorable, debt-free citizenship).

Chapter 4, "Getting Even," explores the ways slaves lashed out, talked back, and humiliated free persons. The titular Pseudolus, Epidicus, and Mostellaria's Tranio dupe or give orders to owners, while Toxilus (Persa) and the slaves in Asinaria physically abuse free people. Slaves call masters "stupid," employ blocking moves (frustrationes), mock arrogant behavior (fastidio), and issue variations of lubere, defiantly claiming the right to do what they want. For male slaves, doing what they wanted included drinking, flirting, having parties, getting sex, or spending time with friends, all of which were staged in the palliata (pp. 237-49). The Saturnalian spirit of the stage freed them from the retribution that the enslaved viewers would have suffered. Closely related is chapter 6, "Telling Without Saying," on tacit rebellion. If overt backtalk was impossible, enslaved persons "spoke truth to power" in other ways, coding their language in ways the dominant group couldn't understand. Richlin compares the language of other eras of slavery here to illustrate her point. Slaves used double meanings, face-out lines (criticism or commentary directed to the audience rather than the interlocutor), or grumbling (muttire) to claim agency in some small way.

In Chapter 5, "Looking Like a Slavewoman," Richlin delves into the intersection of gender, race, and status, highlighting abuses specific to slavewomen. Plays such as Cistellaria, Epidicus, Stichus, Truculentus, Casina, and Persa may have appealed to the women in the audience. Richlin argues that slavewomen, the most vulnerable persons onstage, most often spoke truth to power, such as Syra in Mercator on moral injustice, Scapha in Mostellaria on using sexual power, and Virgo in Persa (who, it should be noted, is a free citizen only temporarily made a slavewoman) on the "social death" of slavery. Richlin then acknowledges the complication of what she calls "Slave Woman Drag," the portrayal of vulnerable slave women by men in women's clothing ventriloquizing women to an audience conscious of the conceit (pp. 281-302). If not played naturalistically, these characters could have been sexual spectacle (the "sexy" meretrices) or monstrous (the "ugly" ancillae). Richlin suggests that, regardless, the act of (possibly) enslaved men playing enslaved women while other men voiced desire for them illustrated the sexual vulnerability of the young male slave victimized by other slaves and the owner.

Richlin's narrative power is on best display in chapters 7, "Remembering the Way Back," and 8, "Escape." She argues that the plays were performative retellings, communal history writing, and a way to imagine justice that was not forthcoming in reality. Through the plays, the actors and audience could work through trauma (of war, enslavement, alienation, physical and sexual abuse). The ways in which people are trafficked are examined here, and memory (of family, of freedom, of orders, of keeping faith, of home, of return) becomes an important concept in these plays. The discussion of trafficking is related to the history of Roman infrastructure, as the roads that carried the comedy troupe were created to move the army, and the army dragged behind it displaced persons, destined for slavery and abuse. Richlin effectively highlights the inextricability of traumatic destruction and "civilization." These plays are often read in a contextual vacuum in the modern classroom, but Richlin puts them back into the war-torn landscape of siege, slaughter, and enslavement that touched the lives of all theatergoers in some way, enacting their anxieties onstage with happier endings.

"Escape" is an important chapter, as it rejects the argument that Plautine slaves didn't really desire freedom (Richlin claims that Epidicus and Palaestrio only pretend not to want manumission, pp. 425). She tracks the importance of the language of freedom (in particular, the formula in iubere salveo), and catalogs all the slaves manumitted, hoping for manumission, or already freed. Following manumission, fantasy (of being king, like Gripus in Rudens or the Slave of Lyconides in Aulularia; of homes back "east"; of running away; of distant utopias) is considered. Here Richlin brings in quotations from Frederick Douglass, folk songs like "Big Rock Candy Mountain," "Minnie the Moocher," "Willie the Weeper," and other depression-era works to illustrate pervasive wistfulness to escape bad circumstances through art. She ends on a bittersweet note: despite the palliata, the uprisings, and the wars, slavery was never abolished in Rome, but slaves who could do so went to the comedies for the temporary escape of laughter.

Richlin translates the texts with her usual panache, never stymied by Plautus' literary puns and neologisms. She punctuates her text with the through line, "all comedy starts with anger," and reinforces long arguments with stark quips and sharp summary lines. I should mention here Richlin's prose, which is elegant, poetic, and full of humanity: "Performance honors the experience, the life histories, of those who were now quasi-persons before the law, but who were persons before they got here, or just know themselves to be real" (pp. 415).

I am persuaded by Richlin's argument for hidden transcripts of slave experiences in these plays, as well as her contention that the enslaved, freed, non-citizen actors used the dialogue and characterizations of enslaved characters to express the anger, frustration, and alienation of similarly oppressed audience members. The chapters on "Getting Even" and "Telling Without Saying" are particularly convincing on the double meanings and revenge fantasies playing out onstage. But how would the playwright(s) have gotten away with this subversive speech? Did the elites in the audience not notice? Not care? What about the officials commissioning the plays for the ludi? Richlin argues that the organization of the festivals was not as strictly centralized as we imagine, and that the artificial Greekness of the plays allowed the participants to cop out ("just weird Greek stuff, nothing dangerous to see here!")—this argument is not new, and others have argued the Saturnalian atmosphere of the ludi permitted subversion.2 But Rome was not Athens, and these were not citizen playwrights exercising parrhesia: Rome didn't get a permanent theater until 55 BCE, and even then, Pompey had to build outside the pomerium and tack on a temple at the top to sidestep the prohibition on stone theaters, which were seen as hotbeds of social unrest.3 Could the pointed criticism of and thinly veiled anger at the citizen elites have been as vehement and intentional as Richlin suggests?

One might also quibble with the delineated limits of the book. Despite the title's pre-colon claim to discussing theater in the Roman Republic, there is little mention of Terence, because "things had changed in Italy" by his time (pg. 2), though with very little explanation of what those things were or how they had changed. We do not hear of Terence until page 479: "And then things changed; the plays of Terence in the 160s bear eloquent testimony to the kind of change it was, for the palliata is now a Menandrian revival, and the language is suddenly subdued, and the slave is upstaged." Spot¬-on assessment, but why? No one knows what to do with Terence.

Richlin's volume is virtually error-free, a near-impossible feat in a staggering 563 pages (one error, on page 322: "Telestis' line in Epidicus, 'Even if she doesn't want me, I'll still be some mother's daughter'" should read "Acropolistis' line," though at the time in the play, Periphanes believes Acropolistis is Telestis, so one could make a case for the error). Richlin's encyclopedic knowledge and command of the names, plots, and circumstances is evident on every page of this volume. Slave Theater is a definitive work of scholarship on enslaved and freed persons in and around Plautus' theatre. More than that, it is required reading for anyone doing work in the field of comedy, the history of slavery, and the lives of the oppressed in ancient Rome.


1.   de Melo, W.C. Plautus I-V (Harvard University Press, 2011-13).
2.   Segal, E. Roman Laughter: The Comedy of Plautus (Oxford University Press, 1968).
3.   Beacham, R. The Roman Theatre and Its Influence (Harvard University Press, 1991).

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